Martha is Dead | PS4 Review
Every now and then a game comes along, and from the very first announcement, really peaks my interest. Martha is Dead is one of those games for me. Developed by LKA and published by Wired Productions and finally receiving its release after a lengthy delay, this first-person psychological horror is now available on Windows PC, PlayStation and XBox. For this review I was playing the PlayStation 4 version of the game, which Sony only just recently announced would release a 'censored' version. This move by Sony applies to both the PlayStation 4 and the PlayStation 5 versions of the game, and I will go into more detail about this later in my review. The Windows PC and XBox versions of Martha is Dead both remain fully uncensored. It should be noted that Martha is Dead does come with a extremely strong content advisory. There are warnings relating to the game's artistic interpretations which could be deemed as being visually upsetting to some. It also states that the game may not be suitable for players who find blood, dismemberment, disfigurement of human bodies, miscarriage and self-harm disturbing. So please bear all that in mind, if you are thinking about playing Martha is Dead.
Psychological horror games have been enjoying quite an abundance of releases lately, and with a lot of generic aspects being shared between them, it's always refreshing to find one that stands out from the crowd. Martha is Dead does come along with a lot of those generric aspects included, but it also has some additional elements to it that make it that bit more appealing to fans of this genre of game. Set in Italy during World War II in 1944, you take on the role of Giulia, who after the murder of her twin sister Martha, must try to come to terms with that loss and trauma, as well as exploring the mystery surrounding the murder itself, as you spend the days after Martha's death delving deeper into both folklore and the macabre.
You start off in the family villa, and as you make your way around, there are various objectives to progress you through the game. The villa itself has many rooms spread over 4 floors with various outbuildings in the close vicinity. The scenery in Martha is Dead looks stunning and the attention to detail will have you stopping frequently just to take it all in. One of the main plus points about the game is your camera, and it is added to your inventory quite early on. As Giulia is a very avid and keen amateur photographer, having been studying the local lake for evidence of folklore, the camera becomes one of your main inventory items. It's not just a point-and-click setup here, like you would find in many other games. With the camera, you have control over aperture and exposure as well as focus. Throughout the game and as you explore more, you will find accessories and addons for the camera in the shape of different lenses, filters, and other attachments. These additions for the camera will be required to be used at certain times during your playthrough, for taking certain and specific photographs. As well as the photography, there is also a dark room located in the villa, where you will need to develop the images from the actual film roll itself. This has been simplified from real life, but still manages to make you feel that you are actually completing the process yourself. You have your enlarging table as well as the exposure trays, and you can find yourself during the game walking around taking lots of photos of the buildings and scenery, then heading back to the dark room to develop all of those photos. I also found the camera very useful for taking photos of signs and lists, etc., especially with my eyesight not being what it once was, so it was handy having a copy of them located in the photo album for reference purposes.
The game being set in 1944 against the backdrop of World War II does add one thing that was maybe not my most favoured element, and I am referring to Morse code. There is a section of the game where you have to learn and use Morse code - it's almost like some sort of mini game where you have to decifer messages as well as send a few yourself. I will have to hold my hands up here and say that I ran straight to Google for assistance with this part of the game, but I am sure some perseverance and maybe a strong coffee would be helpful.
I spent roughly 14 hours playing through Martha is Dead spread over a few sittings, and although the game could be completed in a few hours less, I did take in quite a lot of the sights both in and around the villa, and explored as much of the available gaming area as I could. Some of the chapters will try and confine you to certain areas later on, but you will find you have access to all parts of the map as and when you need to, relating to the story.
You have to remember that Martha is Dead is a horror game, and it can be a bit extreme at times with what you see on the screen. Along with the warnings, there is an option at the start to play through the game in 'censored' mode, so if you feel it starts getting too much, you can always enable that. The game comes with a default native Italian audio track for the voice acting, and this added a very authentic touch to the story, but you can choose which language you want as well as configure the subtitles to suit your preferences in the settings menu. The game will auto save for you and you can manually save as well. You also have a hint system that you can have on or off depending on your preference. Other options that are available include settings for both music and volume levels which you can adjust to suit. As I mentioned earlier, the visuals in Martha is Dead are absolutely stunning, and whether you are wandering around taking in the Tuscan sun, strolling through the nearby woods, or boating round the lake, there has certainly been a lot of attention put into the details. And this was just me playing on the PlayStation 4, so I can only imagine that the game would look even more stunning if you are playing it on a high-end gaming PC or on a next-gen console.
I enjoyed playing through Martha is Dead and I would say that the game you have here on the PlayStation is fine as it is. With regards to the changes that Sony have made to the game prior to its release, there are some interactive elements, which are now just viewable scenes in the PlayStation version of the game. The content is still there, you just no longer physically perform the actual actions for those scenes. I do not think you should let the fact that there are some parts of the game modified put you off it in any way. There is a great psychological horror game here, with a very engaging story, and some interesting elements to the actual game play. Whether you agree with Sony's decision or not - and I myself am in the strongly against it camp - you can still enjoy Martha is Dead. It is just unfortunately the world that we live in and having seen it with both movies and in TV shows, as well as with music, it is not surprising that we are now seeing this type of censorship in video games. At the end of the day this was a decision that was made by Sony, and that should not take anything away from the amazing work that LKA, the developer, have put into Martha is Dead. So my advice for anyone interested in the game is to play it regardless on your chosen platform, and enjoy!
g1a5w3g1an's Rating: 5 morse code dots out of 5.
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